100daysofgrievances #26 TRAINS, PLANES AND RETURNING TO WORK

It was pointed out to me yesterday that I have neglected to publish a Grievance for a fair wee while. In all honesty, I haven’t been feeling particularly grievance-encumbered of late; its remarkably difficult to sustain notions of ranty-ness when planning and embarking upon a jolly jaunt to sunny Berlin. Right now, however, I am firmly back on British soil. More specifically, I am on a busy, smelly, noisy train, and my Rail Replacement Bus curse has struck once more (it simply wouldn’t happen in Germany).  Alas, I am faced with the promise of this most-dreaded mode of transport between Banbury and somewhere else (I’d look it up but of course I have no signal on my phone). What’s more, I also have a connection in Birmingham New Street to look forward to (the most depressing station I have ever had the misfortune to pass through). Perfect time for a post-hol rant, methinks.

Obviously, as brilliant as my holiday was, it also had its low points  – let’s face it, anything involving transport is not going to be smooth-sailing, so to speak.

For the first time ever, I made use of a hotel gym. This was clearly not a low-point.  On the contrary, it was a massive big, smug, ‘look at me in the gym, in the MORNING no less… If I wasn’t scared of the financial implications of switching on roaming on my phone, I would be posting my post-workout stats on Facebook right now’ sort of highlight. The low point came afterwards…

I ill-advisedly decided to nip down to reception in my sweaty gym gear, face a-flame, strands of escapee hair sticking to my face, my neck and straight up in the air (endorphins causing all common sense to temporarily desert me, it would appear). All I intended to do was ask for an adaptor plug (clearly so that I could charge my phone and plaster all over social media the fact that I’d been to the gym, as is all the rage), and I knew the concierge would be far too polite to comment on my less-than-polished appearance. What I wasn’t counting on was getting slightly disorientated (lost) and walking slap-bang through the middle of some high-brow business meet-and-greet. I was pretty far into the melee before I realised I wasn’t directly en route to reception (headphones still in, blissfully unaware of the mutterings of discontent around me). I didn’t even have chance to consider picking up a complimentary bottle of posh apple juice from a hugely shiny table (I lie, that’s EXACTLY what I was contemplating doing), when an equally red-faced man bounded over to me gesticulating wildly and shouting in German. I can honestly say that I have never before seen a fat man in a suit move at such a speed. I was also most impressed by my understanding of his rapidly-fired German (“Get out! Get out! You don’t belong here amongst us specimens of primness and properness! Go back to whence you came you sweaty abomination!” Or words to that effect). It was a little embarrassing. I was glad to still be wearing my trainers as I made my hasty departure, all eyes on me.

That was the first occasion I felt a little out-of-place in the swanky hotel. The second was in the spa area. Perhaps I was feeling a little sensitive in regards to walking into places where I was unwelcome, but faced with an endless parade of naked men (I will NOT stoop to the level of referencing German sausages), I truly thought I had mistakenly entered the wrong sauna. The BF thought it was hilarious of course. We didn’t go back and I couldn’t look a single male guest in the eye for the remainder of our stay.

My final holiday grievance took place whilst passing through security in Berlin airport. I was made to delve through my hand luggage to remove all the (many) wonderful giant tinned gherkins I had purchased and which had flashed up on the x-ray machine. I was forced to rummage through dirty and scrumpled clothing (seriously, does anyone actually fold clothes for the return journey?) in an attempt to extract the last of the tins from the detritus that was the contents of my case. All the while, an impatient and curious queue building up behind me.  This was not a relaxing start to the return leg of the journey. The lovely security lady’s boss’s boss (their conference took a while) eventually handed them all back to me. I was grateful, of course (as I am certain all the recipients of my wonderful souvenirs were…) However, I was then left with the problem of juggling an open case (knickers threatening to escape), my boots (more of that later), my passport and boarding pass, and multiple tins containing super-sized gherkins, as I skedaddled through the final few feet of the security area. By this point the queue behind me was of epic proportions and the BF was doing a very good impression of never having met me before as I flapped my way over to him, my Xmas socks padding on the floor, surrounded by rolling tins.

As for the boots… Note to self, do NOT wear your longest lace-up Doc Martens when flying. You WILL be asked to remove them. It WILL take approximately 6 minutes per boot, you know this! You WILL get all hot and bothered in the process. There WILL be a queue of tutting travellers. Re-lacing them will take an equally long time (time you know you do not usually have to spare at airports).

You’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that after I’d finished with my boots and set of for my obligatory tour of the duty free shop, I was greeted with a giant display of tinned gherkins. The same tinned gherkins that were poking out of my case where I’d not managed to close it properly. Typical.

Apart from those aforementioned incidents of a slightly unfortunate nature, I had a most excellent holiday and this made my return to work all the more depressing.

I recently clicked on a link to this article:  http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/business/50-most-annoying-things-office-4989841

I was curious as to the nature of other people’s office-based grievances. To my great surprise (and probably yours, too) many of those annoyances that made the list simply do not irritate me in the slightest.  Clearly other things do annoy me in the workplace and we will get to that in due course.

A large number of the irritations concern food (obviously a favourite topic of discussion of mine). According to the article, the second most annoying thing that co-workers can do is eat smelly food. I don’t agree with this; I love food smells! Well, with the possible exception of smoky smells sticking to my hair and clothes but it’s doubtful that a colleague will ever extract a disposable barbecue from his or her briefcase, shove the keyboard out the way, and embark on some chargrilling at their desk. What I do hate, and what isn’t mentioned in the article is the SOUND of eating, the crunching munching and chewing noises, and the swallowing of liquids. And loud breathing. And coughing and spluttering. And sniffing. Especially sniffing. This isn’t confined to the office. It is actually in the forefront of my mind as a girl behind me on the train is currently alternating between sniffing and scrunching her way through an endless packet of Quavers. I know they are Quavers because I turned round to see what could possibly be making so much noise.

Number 3 on the list is ‘colleagues microwaving fish’. This amused me greatly as it is so specific and so high up the list!  it would appear that I’m missing out on this this trend of enjoying a reheated lunchtime fish pie treat. I may have to address this forthwith.

Staying with the food theme, further down the list is a grievance relating to colleagues asking what one had for lunch.  I think this is a ridiculous complaint! I, on the contrary, LOVE talking about lunch.  The vast majority of non-work emails I send between the hours of 9 and 1 relate to what I’m having for lunch and what my friends intend to dine upon for their midday meals.  Between 2 and 5pm the discussion moves on to how that lunch performed – sometimes with marks out of ten –  and whether it lived up to expectations. Occasionally we will then discuss the following day’s lunching possibilities (if we have not moved on to what we plan to cook for our respective dinners).

Similarly, number 46 on the list relates to colleagues who bring in (and share) cakes.  Apparently it ruins diets.  Hmm, I personally think that some people perhaps misread the survey question (‘list the BEST things co-workers can do to improve your working day’).

All in all, I quite like working in a office environment (foodie lunch-themed discussions and free cakes notwithstanding!) I have definitely held worse jobs.  Some highlights below:

1. Having to dig around in a massive bag of rubbish in a triumphant search for an American golf fan’s gold tooth whilst employed as a teenager at the British Open in Turnberry. I have just this very second made the connection between this incident and my long-term and unwavering certainty every time I lose something (the pesto, my house keys, my favourite bra, the remote control), that is MUST have fallen into the bin.

2. Working as a home help for several years and encountering many rather odd people… From the old man who was determined to buy me underwear and who eventually presented me with a pair of rather glamorous knee high boots instead (I couldn’t think of an feasible excuse not to tell him my SHOE size), to the old lady who I stupidly bestowed my mobile number upon and who then called me repeatedly at weekends to tell me that I had failed to adequately stock up her banana bowl. She would go on to declare that she therefore might starve and that it would be MY FAULT and that I should, therefore, return AT ONCE from wherever I was and save her from this life-and-death predicament. I would visit her the following Monday morning and her overflowing banana bowl would be exactly as I left it (full to the brim and untouched). She also had a lovely habit of looking me up and down and saying things like ‘my SPINSTER friend used to have a pair of those big clunky boots you insist on wearing…’ ‘My SPINSTER friend used to wear her hair just like yours…’ ‘Did I ever tell you my SPINSTER friend used to expose her mid rift in that manner, too…’ (As I stretched to reach for a bowl from atop a cupboard in which to place the overflow bananas). She was always convinced I was conning her, too: ‘Are you SURE there’s no more change? Bananas never cost that much in my day…” She was delightful.

3. Working early mornings stuffing ‘freshly baked baguettes’ (ones I’d just removed from their cellophane wrappers) in that classy establishment Delice de France, of a Saturday morning. This was having spent my whole first term’s student loan in the first couple of weeks… Needs must.

4. Flyering for a truly dreadful nightclub (one that everyone KNEW was dreadful) whilst wearing the obligatory massive silver puffa jacket. I think this was when the second term’s loan had all been drunk.

In comparison, office work is a piece of cake – those people complaining don’t know they’re born! Luckily (well, luckily for the purposes of this blog), I have plenty more things to worry about right now. We’ve just been informed that our landlord is selling the house, so watch this space for house hunting, and house MOVING complaints. Bet you’re as excited as I am.

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